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April 2012

Posts from March 2012

I survived the ruffle!

It took 5 days (I did eat, sleep, run, play, drink beer, work, parent and do other stuff, but still) and it was a real slog, but my Ella coat now has a pretty ruffly hem.


Actually it's had a hem since Sunday and as of Tuesday night, it has a fancy-dancy button band.

I am running low on the main colour of yarn so I knew I wouldn't be doing the full-ruffle Ella (and seriously, I am DONE with picot ruffle bind offs).  I pondered my options and went for the tailored and slightly girlie look of a fold over hemmed button band with a picot turning row.

Ella edge

Pretty eh?

And because I'm worried about yardage (and because this is a fancy-dancy coat) I did a nifty stipey bit on the inside hem.

Ella edge inside

It is perfect for the coat.

Then I got a bit stuck.  What the heck will I use for closures.

I want the coat to stay closed and right now am leaning towards buttons.  I love the stability of the hemmed edge so will do a folded, picot hemmed buttonhole band.

What's stopping me is buttons.  I need some.  They need to be *perfect*.  But I don't want to go making buttonholes until I know what they'll be buttoning.

The hunt is on.  I want them to be the same colour as the band (cranberry-ish) and subtle--not blingy.  

Suggestions are welcome.

Let's Add It Up, Shall We?

Let's say my Ella coat has about 250 sts at the hem.

And for the ruffle, I kfb into each stitch, thereby doubling the stitch count to 500 stitches.

Then, after a purl row, I kfb, k1, repeating to the end and thereby add another 250 stitches.

That means I have to bind off 750 stitches.

Okay. I've done that before maybe once.  I think.

Now, as I consult my pattern, I note that I decided to do a picot ruffle.

This means I CAST ON 2 stitches, then bind off 3.

If I get this right (and I'm horribly sure I do), I'm adding another 2x700 stitches to the bind off.

1400 stitches.  Added to 700.

That's 2100 stitches.

Excuse me while I get some smelling salts and a warm cloth, I think I will need them.

I'm voluntarily binding off 2100 stitches?

That's going to take a while.


And I'm already almost a week behind.

Hold on...I still have to do (or perhaps re-evaluate doing) ruffled plackets. Plackets that will likely have more than 250 stitches.


Skirting Ella

Nora gave us a big, 3 week assignment for the Ella Reinvented KAL and the deadline is Sunday (not that it's a hard deadline since this is knitting and fun and all that, but I like to stay on top of things). The task is to pick up from the high waist of the Ella bolero and knit down to the length desired.

I can totally do that.  Easy.  Pretty on the pick-up.

My random stripe pattern (for which I have a cheat sheet to keep it random--I know, but I migrate naturally to patterns so I have to plan my randomness), is chugging along and is quite fetching.

Oooooh, what's that?  New yarn for Xander's sweater.  I can work on that for a bit to make him happy.  I have three weeks to knit my Ella skirt.

Flavia?  What a pretty shawl.  I started you at my girls'n'yarn weekend and I'm on the border so I'm practically finished.  I should work on that in the car trip to drop the kids at Grandma's for March break.  Tons of time to work on Ella and she's not that portable anymore (I carry her in a big Lululemon shopping bag).

Aw crap, it's 4 days to deadline time and I have 6 inches of knitting for a knee length Ella. I better get going.

Review: Beyond Knit & Purl

Kate Atherley is a Toronto-based knitting tech-editor, teacher, designer and the knitter behind the Wise Hilda Knits blog.  She's an occasional knit-bud of mine who makes a mean fruit cake and she's recently released her first book: Beyond Knit & Purl: Take Your Knitting To The Next Level.  She sent me the nifty PDF version for review (the iPad is made for books like this) and in short,



I'm not saying this because I know Kate.  I say it because it's a great book and I have a lot of respect for her work. Her experience as a knitting teacher really shows as she discusses what a new knitter needs to know after he or she learns how to knit and purl.  Things like how to choose a pattern; how to spot trouble in the instructions and perhaps decide to find another clearer one; how to tell if a pattern might be challenging and how to assess if your current skill level aligns with the pattern you want to knit. 

Kate spends a chapter talking about choosing the right yarn for your pattern and on knitting a gauge swatch.  Another chapter walks the reader through the fundamentals of a pattern: how to figure out the instructions for your size, how to work from a chart, what the heck the dreaded "at the same time" or "reverse shapings on the other shoulder" means.  For me, it's the first book of its kind that explains these concepts in plain language and even if you know your knitting, it's a good resource on the basics--like a Joy of Cooking for yarn and needles.

This book also tells you knitting things that you might already know, but can sometimes forget or that you overthink in the late hours when you're trying to finish that sleeve: Does work increase every 6th row mean I do the increase on row 6 or row 7?  How many times should I do it if the final stitch count isn't in the pattern?  What the heck is the difference between K2togtbl and SSK?  That stuff is all in there.

After covering these concepts, she moves on to other important fundamentals like shaping, Continental vs English knitting and how to finish and care for your handknits. By Chapter 6 there are both mini-projects to help a new knitter learn the skills covered and more challenging patterns for those ready for something larger (or for an experienced knitter looking for a pretty yet relaxing knit). 

In the remaining chapters she outlines the basics of knitting in the round, socks (the knitting I most associate with Kate), cables, lace and colourwork.  She provides both mini-projects and more involved ones for each technique (like a nifty lace bookmark and a fair isle phone cozy) and her designs are both educational and pretty.  I've already added a few things to my Ravelry queue and plan to try her sock toe on my next pair (even though I rather like Kitchener stitch).




The book has plenty of photos to instruct the reader on techniques and to show off the designs.  The nicest little extra is the knitting tips from experienced knitters which are both kernels of wisdom and nice motivators for new knitters.  This is a great addition to my knitting library and the pdf is great to have when I'm on the go.

The book is available at many local yarn shops or directly from Cooperative Press (where you can get the digital too).  The instant gratification PDF is available as a Ravelry download.


Holy concert night! (shameless kid bragging)

Last night was Music night at Emma's middle school and as dutiful parents we went to see hersing in the choir.  I confess that I'm not as involved in the life of the middle school and I had no idea how much talent there is in the place.


The choir was quite something (if you're interested, here's a couple of short snippets.  Emma is right in the middle--I'm not one of those parents who goes right to the front).


The concert featured a whole bunch of other fantastic performances--strings, band, solos (including Emma's new French teacher playing the theme from Star Wars on the bagpipes), a parent/teacher rock band featuring Emma's homeroom teacher (who sang professionally before teaching), a group playing the baritone ukulele and singing Sweet Child of Mine (that I totally should have filmed), and a student rock band belting out songs from The Guess Who and Rolling in the Deep.  
It was actually a really enjoyable evening.  Especially after all those years of sitting through some pretty horrid concerts at the school and daycare.  The kids are always cute, but now they are choosing to participate and the teachers are really invested in making nice music.
We also got a preview of the production of High School Musical they're doing in May (Emma is in the chorus).  I'll have more bragging to do then!


Since I last blogged...

I caught a craptastically craptastic cold (I actually had it in the pictures of my finished Amused--hence the hat and pale face) and spent most of last week sick at home.

That wasn't all bad because a) I re-watched the complete two seasons and Christmas special of Downton Abbey (which I ADORE) and b) I knit a whole big bunch.

For example, I completed weeks 5and  6 of my Ella Reinvented coat, the cuffs and the collar.  I'm loving these ruffles! -even if they take FOREVER to bind off.  (It's a picot bind off, cast on 2, bind off 3, on a ruffle of a gabillion sts).

Ella with collar

And I finished my Grand Central Cowl (sorry about the crappy photos, sickness makes me lazy). 


The yarn is super squooshy Briar Rose Pilgrim. I love the deep jeweled colours.  Natalie's pattern is easy and fun and fast. I want to make another one.


I also got started on something new, Flavia from the Indigodragonfly Smartass Knitters/World Domination Club. The yarn is extra yummy Polwarth Silk. This stuff could become my desert island yarn. The pattern is a whole lot of moss stitch which suits me fine--I wanted some easy couch knitting.

This is my progress as of this morning. I got a whole lot of knitting done this weekend, but that's another post.